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Noah's ark story for older children

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For reasons too complicated to explain, I will be teaching the story of Noah's ark to Y5/6 next term. Obviously, I will have to approach it is a far more complex manner than the normal KS1 activities. Has anyone any ideas for an interesting take on the story at y6 level? I am particularly interested in RE ideas; I know that there are lots of great cross-curricular things to do with the story.

HolofernesesHead Wed 10-Apr-13 14:43:15

Excellent! Bear in mind though that modern Hebrew is v. different to biblical Hebrew - one group of modern Hebrew-speaking teenagers I was with once couldn't understand much of the Hebrew Bible at all.

I fully intend to have great fun with it. And I really hope that many, if not all, of the children will too. There is nothing quite as exciting as actually using your brain and thinking and discovering your own views/a new way of seeing the world.

And now I am going back to my planning to add more ideas and details. I even have a bilingual Hebrew speaking child in that class!

HolofernesesHead Wed 10-Apr-13 06:57:31

Of course you can have fun with it! There are lots of genuinely interesting, engaging aspects which I would enjoy teaching. If I were a school teacher I'd see the nuanced handling of religious texts as quite an important part of my work, enabling children to move beyond the absolute truth / pack of lies dichotomy which seems to bedevil some approaches to the Bible. And dammit, we'd have fun along the way! smile

Mind you, I was the one who, when the health visitor asked our ante-natal group what aspect of parenting we were looking forward to most, replied 'having fun.' she wasn't impressed and gave me a mini lecture about the funlessness of parenting.

OutragedFromLeeds Tue 09-Apr-13 23:17:30

I think the teachers that 'had fun' with the lesson were the best ones at school.

Who wants to sit and study the bible? Not me. Much better to look at it in different ways, from different angles.

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 23:14:56

Ach, seeker, you can have fun/enjoy teaching something because it's interesting. I guess have fun is maybe an unfortunate turn of phrase, but I dont think it was meant in a tasteless way, do you?

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 23:03:44

"Have fun with it!"


HolofernesesHead Tue 09-Apr-13 21:59:58

Also (soryr for double post) something on the theme of the covenant and how that is understood by different faith traditions and 'secular' covenants that are made, e.g. marriage. If they're bright, the difference between a covenant and a contract.

HolofernesesHead Tue 09-Apr-13 21:58:26

It sounds very interesting! If I were teaching this, I might include...

Something on the two intertwined flood stories in Gen. 6 - 9 and a nod towards the development of the Hebrew Bible (i.e. what we have now is a patchwork of bits of stories, some written earlier than others, not in the order we have them in the books, not in chronological order either). I'd get the children to write their own stories in the same patchwork way.

Something on floods around the world now - link in with climate change.

Something on the symbol of the rainbow and how different groups have used it.

Something on the other flood stories - Penguin have a good little book called 'Myths from Mesopotamia' which has some flood stories in it, Gilgamesh being one of them.

I'd also teach them a little bit (only a little bit!) of Hebrew - children of this age find it fascinating as it's so different from English and if you only find out how to write a few words, it might just open up a whole new world to them - there are some good beginners' Hebrew online resources to look up / print out just a little bit. Or if you're in an area with a Jewish community, get someone who knows to come in and do some Hebrew, and talk about what the story means to them in their faith tradition.

Have fun with it!

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 21:13:21

Apologies for excess exclamation marks...

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 21:11:45

Well, not Christians at that point, seeker! I think the cuddly rendering may be because it is a pretty horrific story!

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 21:02:15

The only biblical explanation seems to be that god just lost his patience with man- what with all the sin, and Christian men marrying non Christian women and Sodom and Gomorrah and stuff. He decided to destroy everyone and start again. Then he thought about it, and decided to accept that man was basically evil and he'd have to get over it, which is why he promised never to do anything like that again. It's not a very edifying story from a Christian point of view- no real lesson. Except, i suppose, that Noah believed God even when his neighbours were mocking him. I've often wondered why it's rendered all cuddly for children. The animals, probably.

I agree; a really interesting question. I remember worrying about the same thing when I was that age.

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 19:05:50

But also the number of flood narratives in different cultures might cause - should, really - cause one to question why the version in their own religion is seen as true and others myth, esp as they follow similar patterns re hero surviving etc.

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 19:02:21

And yy to Gilgamesh. What other flood narratives are there?

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 19:01:13

I'd have to say "I don't know"! But then again I'm an atheist so I don't feel the need to justify any actions of any god. I think it's a really interesting subject to talk about, nonetheless, and would have liked a lot more of the "some people believe" stuff when I was in (catholic) school.

Seeker, children much younger than 10 ask these questions frequently. We say that some people believe this, some believe that ... we talk about the fact that we don't know the answers to all the questions. I must admit, I have been doing some research about the story this morning, and none of the learned Christians who have written commentaries seem to address the waste of animal life, although they do say that all people apart from Noah were fallen and depraved. I think it might also link to how different religions see animals.

LilyB, the Just So stories is an angle I hadn't thought of - that's why I wanted to ask on MN. Such an interesting range of views.

LilyBolero Tue 09-Apr-13 08:53:39

Well, if I was teaching it to that age group I would;
read it in the bible
talk about the context within the bible - ie being in Genesis means it is bunched in with the creation stories - ie probably a story made up by early writers in order to 'make sense' of things they didn't understand
Look at other religions - esp Islam - to see if they have similar stories
look at depictions in culture - art/music etc
Look at Rudyard Kipling's Just So stories
Get them to write their own 'nature explained' story

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:50:01

I think the OP needs to be prepared for the question. 4 year olds may not ask it- but 10 year olds certainly will.

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:48:09


WishIdbeenatigermum Tue 09-Apr-13 08:47:26

You really are a one trick pony aren't you seeker hmm

seeker Tue 09-Apr-13 08:08:41

So, seriously, when a thoughtful 10 year old says to you- "but why did God do that to all the living things that he had made and loved?" What are you going to say?

Yes, that is the bit that always bothers me. Although, as you say, it is probably a story written to make sense of a folk memory of disaster. Not sure that it is always that suitable for the youngest children for this reason.

habbibu Tue 09-Apr-13 07:20:43

To me the interesting thing about the flood narratives is how people used them to try to make sense of disaster -huge, terrible flood cruelly taking hundreds of lives, and various religions find different ways of interpreting them. One of the things that's quite disturbing if you think about it, is how the story, and us as readers, almost oblivious to the suffering of those who didn't make it on to the ark. It gives an impression of a very cruel god, I think, and yet the story is one of the most popular - that, I think, is interesting in itself.

Oops, just spotted it - principle, not principal. Hope I won't get dragged onto an 'illiterate teacher' thread!

MrsShrek3 Mon 08-Apr-13 23:18:35

Belle, awesome grin

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